Championship-event runners all deserve recognition; here it is

Runners from Tempe, McClintock, Marcos de Niza and Corona Del Sol high schools competed in the Tempe cross country championships recently, many of the teams having finished their race with strong and notable performances. – Wrangler News photo by Billy Hardiman

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By Alex Zener

The Tempe City Cross Country Championship was held Oct. 23 at Kiwanis Park, where athletes from all Tempe Union high schools ran the 5,000 meters. Although Desert Vista won both the men’s and women’s races, Corona, McClintock, Marcos de Niza and Tempe had runners who deserve to be highlighted.

For instance, McClintock’s girls team finished in second place accumulating only 60 points when juniors Ella Zeiders and Selema Ortiz took ninth and 10th place. Sophomore Alexandra Lamond placed 13th, senior Mariska Bogaard came in 18th and Olivia Fisher crossed the finish line in 21st place.

The scoring is not based altogether on what place the runners finished in the race because Desert Vista had 32 of the 78 runners who competed in the girls race with 12 of them finishing in the top 20.

Only a school’s top five runners are counted in the final score. Desert Vista had the top five runners and therefore received a score of 15.

Disregarding Desert Vista’s seven other runners who were in the top 20, then, as far as scoring points, Zeiders and Ortiz took seventh and eighth place because Mountain Pointe had a runner in sixth place.

Juniors Rachael Pabst and Alexia Moreno, freshman Eloise Hales and senior Jimee Sanders also finished the race for McClintock.

Corona Girls Came in Third

Corona’s girls team came in third with a total of 77 points. Junior Peyton Burnside was the top finisher when she crossed the finish line in 14th place but actually in 10th place, as far as scoring, if you disregard Desert Vista’s extra runners.

Burnside was followed by sophomore Ashlinn Aguayo in 18th place, senior Emily Rugg in 20th, sophomore Sachiko Devine in 28th, junior Teadora Zawilak in 30th and sophomore Leah Gunter in 31st place. Freshman Kelsey Gunning and junior Isabelle Marceles also finished the race.

Tempe High School

Tempe High School had nine runners compete in the City Championships, with senior Maria Garcia Munoz as their top finisher in 27th place followed by fellow senior Jasmine Neal in 32nd place. Sophomore Ximena Daniel was next, in 47th place, followed by junior Karoline Rojas in 49th. The Buffaloes’ fifth runner was junior Dayanara Gomez.

Tempe’s other runners included freshman Rhonda Kent, junior Abigail Reyes and seniors Vanessa Galvin and Guadalupe Hernandez Agaton.

Marcos de Niza Girls Team

The Padres had a full contention of 11 runners compete in the 5,000-meter cross country race.

Junior runners Daniella Matuz and Gabrielle Ramirez were the first two Padre athletes to cross the finish line, followed by sophomore Donna Flores and juniors Esthere Richards and Crystal McCoy.

Sophomore Vanessa Vargas, senior Samantha Lohmann, freshman Virginia Penunuri, junior Aileen Verduzco Molina, freshman Cindy Penunuri and junior Dalila Mendoza made up the additional six Marcos runners.

Corona Boys Team

The Aztecs took second place with two seniors and three freshmen, with all five finishing in the top 14 runners.

Zachary Johnson put forth a great effort down the home stretch trying to overtake Desert Vista’s senior runner, Demetris Love, but to no avail. Johnson crossed the finish line in second place, less than five seconds behind Love, with a time of 17.11.9.

The time-spread for Corona’s remaining four runners to finish the race was only 1:23 minutes.

Johnson’s senior teammate, Dominic Arellano, was the next Corona runner to complete the 5,000 meters. Arellano took fifth place with a time of 17:40.9.

Corona’s next three runners who helped determine the second place points were freshmen Diego Frausto, eighth place; Andrew Davies-Boerner, 12th place; and Tyler Tisinger, 14th place.

Corona’s next seven finishing runners were senior Conner Zook, sophomores Diego Diaz, Callum Rohrer and Bennett Gunning and then freshman Grant Murad.

They were followed by two seniors, Daniel Nichols and Riley Welch.

McClintock’s Boys Team

McClintock’s boys team finished fourth, Tempe was fifth and Marcos de Niza finished sixth at the championships.

The Chargers’ top finisher was senior Aiden Penry, who finished in 20th place, followed closely by freshman Tavern Sanders, who was 21st.

Rounding out the team for McClintock was freshman Cole Bolen, 31st place, junior Miguel Quijada Inzunza, 59th, and senior Christopher Pacheco.

Freshman Mario Menchaca was the final McClintock runner.

Tempe’s Boys Team

Tempe High was able to enter 18 runners at the Championships, with junior Derek Cobos as the Buffaloes’ first runner to cross the finish line in 35th place. Rounding out Tempe’s top five runners were seniors Ivan Felty, Jaxen Davis, Ulises Diaz and Jacob Bojorquez.

The final top 12 finishers for Tempe were sophomores Christopher Cruz and Jonathon Sandoval, junior Mikhael Borja, sophomore Julian Ramos, senior Alexander Lara, junior Ricardo Barajas and Andrew Henning.

Marcos de Niza Boys Team

Marcos entered 21 athletes in the City Championships including their top finisher, freshman Luke Sieveking, who crossed the finish line in 28th place. He was followed by junior Ahmad Alawi, sophomore Benito Cervantes, and juniors Justin Malpica and Braeden Mattson.
The next Padre runners to finish were seniors Alexander Robles and Xavier Newell, freshman Wyatt Young, junior Marco Guillen, sophomore Moss Williams, freshman Heber Schaeffer and junior Ashton Busey.

Cross Country Sectionals and State Championship

All four local high school cross country teams will be using the next week to prepare for the AIA Sectionals which will be held on Nov. 8 at Gilbert Crossroads Park, 2155 E Knox Road.

The sectional results will be used to determine who qualifies for the AIA State Cross Country Championship Meet be held for Divisions I-IV on Nov. 16 at Cave Creek Golf Course at 15202 N. 19th Ave. in Phoenix.

Corona will be competing in the 5,000 Meters Division I-Section III race at the sectionals on Nov. 8.

The men’s race will start at 9 a.m. while the women’s event opens at 9:35 a.m.

McClintock and Tempe will be competing in the Division II-Section IV race on Nov. 8. The men’s race will start at 12 p.m. and the women’s race at 12:35.

Marcos will be competing on Nov. 8 in the Division III-Section II race. The men’s race will start at 1:10 p.m. while the women’s race will start at 1:45 p.m.

The Cross Country State Championship meet for all divisions will be held on Nov. 16, also at Cave Creek Golf Course.

At the State Championship meet on Nov. 16, Corona will compete in Division I with the men’s race starting at 8:45 a.m. while the women’s race will follow at 9:45 a.m.

McClintock and Tempe will be competing in Division II, which will have the men’s race starting at 12:30 p.m. and the women’s race at 1:30.

Marcos will be competing in Division III with the men’s race starting at 2 p.m. and the women’s race starting at 1 p.m.

Corona Football

The Aztecs had one regular season game left scheduled at home on Nov. 1 against Mountain Pointe.

If Corona, ranked No. 19 after the first nine out of 10 games, was to defeat Mountain Pointe, there may be a slim chance the Aztecs could be one of the 16 teams that makes it into the 6A state playoffs.

It would be the first time since 2015 that the Aztecs played in a playoff game. In 2015 Corona lost to Marcos de Niza in the first round when the Aztecs were classified as Division II for just that one season.

Before that, the Aztecs had not played in the state playoffs since 2008 when Gary Venturo was in his 22nd year as head coach.

On paper, Corona has a good chance of defeating the Pride. Mountain Pointe, currently ranked No. 25, has not won a single game so far in their conference and currently have a 1-8 record.

Second, Corona has been a touchdown or less away from winning four of the six games the Aztecs lost this season.

After defeating Mesa Mountain View the first game of the season, the Aztecs only lost to Mountain Ridge, currently ranked No. 14, by three points at 13-16 in their second game.

Then they lost to Basha, currently ranked No. 15, by seven points and to Queen Creek, currently ranked No. 11, by only seven points on Oct. 4.

Last weekend they played very competitively against currently No. 8-ranked Desert Vista, losing only by seven points. The game was tied until the fourth quarter when the Thunder outscored Corona 15-8 to win 29-22.

Aztec quarterback Quade Swearingen passed for 169 yards and one touchdown with no interceptions, compared to the Desert Vista quarterback’s 122 yards with one interception.

Jake Schmitt caught five passes for a total of 111 receiving yards and two touchdowns. One 27-yard touchdown pass came from sophomore running back Anyale Velazquez.

Velazquez was also the team’s workhorse when it came to running with the ball. He carried the ball 25 times for a total of 71 yards and one touchdown.

In addition, Velazquez punted the ball the two times the Aztecs needed a punter, averaging 23.5 yards per punt.

Jean Boyd III caught and returned three kickoff footballs for a total of 83 yards, while Eric Brice and Demetrius Rock each had one return.

Jasper Schineller scored two points on PAT kicks and Schmitt earned two more reception points when the Aztecs went for a two-point conversion in the fourth quarter.

Schmitt also tried his hand at kicking with three kickoffs for an average of 35.7 yards a kick while Schineller had one kickoff for a total of 47 yards.

On defense against the Thunder, the Aztecs recorded 33 solo and 16 assisted tackles for a total of 49 tackles.

Alex Rafalski once again led the team in tackles with eight solo and three assisted for a total of 11 tackles.

Schmitt proved his worth on both sides of the ball with seven solo tackles and three assisted for a total of 10 tackles against Desert Vista.

Luke Bashford was recorded for one quarterback sack while Alden Moody caused Desert Vista’s quarterback to hurry his action two times, and Tudor Georgescu was recorded for one time hurrying the quarterback.

Rafalski intercepted Desert Vista’s quarterback one time while Andrew Synder caused and recovered one fumble.

If the Aztecs manage to defeat Mountain Pointe and move into the top 16 in the 6A division, the first game would be at the higher seed on Nov. 8.

Marcos de Niza Football

After winning four games in a row, the currently No. 12-ranked Padres lost their last two conference games and are in need of a win the last game of the season on Nov. 1 to guarantee they are one of the top 16 teams to make it into the state championship tournament which starts on Nov. 8 at the higher seed.

Last week the Padres were not able to bounce back from their 56-0 loss to No. 1 ranked team in the 4A Division, Saguaro, on Oct. 18 but did put forth a good effort in their 28-14 loss to Mesquite last week.

Arcadia, the team the Padres were due to play Nov. 1, and Marcos both have 5-4 records but the Titans have lost four straight and are 0-4 in the 4A

Desert Sky region. A win over Arcadia may be just what Marcos needs to get back on track before the state tournament.

In their most recent loss against Mesquite on Oct. 25, the Padres scored first with a rushing touchdown by Yakeen Baylis to go up 6-0 at the end of the first quarter when the PAT kick was missed.

Mesquite came roaring back with a touchdown in the second quarter to make the score 7-6 in favor of Wildcats.

The Padres were threatening to score before the half but two quarterback sacks by Mesquite stalled the action and time ran out.

Mesquite got the ball to start the third quarter and scored to go up by 8 points or to lead 14-6. Baylis came through with another huge play with a 70-yard rushing touchdown and a two-point rushing conversion to tie the score at 14-14 with nine minutes left in the third quarter.

The Padres were once again stopped in their next possession with two big quarterback sacks by the Wildcats but the third quarter still ended tied 14-14.

Marcos had two possessions where turnovers gave the ball back to Mesquite. The first one was a fumble early in the fourth quarter. The second, a costly turnover, was an interception when the Padres were in Mesquite’s Red Zone.

Mesquite marched down the field and scored on a rushing touchdown with three minutes to go in the game to go up 21-14.

Only behind by one touchdown but with time running out, Marcos may have passed the ball one too many times because an errant pass was intercepted by the Wildcats and run in for a “Pick 6.” Mesquite went up 28-14 with a little over two minutes left in the game.

Baylis was once again the leading rusher on the team with 164 yards on 19 carries including one for 66 yards. He scored two rushing touchdowns and one rushing two-point conversion for a total of 14 points.

Matt Canada was the leading receiver on the team catching two passes for a total of 64 yards. Nico Updyke had three receptions for 22 yards and Martell Thompson had two receptions for 20 yards.

Senior Julius O’Banner had two kickoff returns for a total of 35 yards and one punt return for nine yards.

Schofar Hill was the leading tackler with four solo and seven assisted for a total of 11 tackles followed by Malaki Corella and Micah Willingham both with eight total tackles.

Altogether the Padres had 4.5 quarterback sacks with 22 yards for loss.

Hill was recorded as having 2.5 sacks while Jacob Irick had one and Alexander Norrish and Dante Kircher-Myton had .5 each.

Freshman Mason Stromstad intercepted a Mesquite pass returning the ball for eight yards.

If the rankings did not change, Marcos, as the No. 12 ranking, would play at No. 5 Desert Edge on Nov. 8. You can check the ranking next Tuesday to see what the Padres ended up online at



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